A baffled couple have branded Wakefield District Housing “petty” after the social housing firm confiscated a tiny patch of land from their driveway and tried to charge them over £4,100 to claim it back.
The 3m2 area outside their Rufford Street home has been utilised by Ian and Hazel Gelder since they were given permission by Wakefield District Council in the late 1980s.
But after the arrangement was brought to WDH’s attention earlier this year, they wanted the couple to pay the eye-watering amount.
After they refused, workmen from WDH simply fenced the tiny area off this week, and blocked vehicle access to the couple’s driveway.
The couple, who bought their house from the council in the 1980s, say they have never denied that the land is not part of their property, but have questioned the need for WDH to leave it as an eyesore.
Mrs Gelder, 72, said: “They are just being petty and we think WDH need to be shown up for what they have done. I think they expected us to buy it.
“If it was reasonably priced we would have done, but not at £3,500 plus all the costs.
“I think they’ve tried to charge us for a whole driveway.
“What are they going to do with it? They have said they will maintain it - but maintain what? We’ve lived here 54 years and we’ve not seen anything like this before.”
Mr Gelder, who is 78 and was forced to make part of the new fencing because it is part of their boundary, added: “It’s embarrassing, there are people coming past and they just stare at it. It’s an eyesore.”
The situation came to light earlier this year when their adjoining neighbour, Chris Tunnicliffe, applied to buy the council house he has lived in for more than a decade.
He is now seeking legal advice over the situation, calling WDH’s move to fence off the area as “disgusting”, adding: “They have now devalued two properties. We’ve had surveyors look at it and they just can’t believe what they’ve done.”
Andrew Wallhead, chief executive of WDH, responded by saying: “We will continue to work with the couple to come to a sensible solution as the current position does not benefit either party.”
He says they were given the option of making an offer that they see as “affordable”, renting it or give it back.